Tidbits and Notes from Playing with FIRE: The Documentary

Updated: Mar 4

Playing with FIRE: The Documentary is available on Amazon Prime. The story follows a young couple with a small child who discover the FIRE (financial independence/retire early) movement and construct a new life that fits within the FIRE model. I wrote about my overall take on the documentary, but in case you're more of a Cliff's notes person, here are my notes divided onto categories.


Federal Reserve Stats:

  • Average American saves 3% of their income

  • Nearly half of US households cannot come up with $400 for emergency without borrowing or selling something

  • 69% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings

  • 34% have no savings at all

  • 78% of US workers are living one paycheck from the edge

On Society

  • We have a consumerism culture, rat race culture

  • Capitalism drowns us in messages about what we need

  • We are spending money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t know

  • Way back when you didn’t have the money, you didn’t go out and buy it

  • Credit cards, loans, debt are the norm

  • Get a job, buy a house, work until you’re 65, get a pension, employer will look out for you

  • FI is about not having to abide by society’s rules (we need to write a new rulebook)

On Retirement

  • Retirement crises: fewer pensions, less defined benefit plans, health care costs

  • There was a time that people didn’t retire; they died at 62 or 63

  • They set up social security when hardly anyone got to 65

  • Now, due to medicine and nutrition, people living longer

On Financial Independence

  • Financially independent: enough money in your assets that you don’t have to work a job and you can live off of the income from that

  • Save enough money so that money can generate enough income in retirement to live on

  • FI number: yearly living expenses and multiply by 25

  • Not about making all the money in the world, about doing the most with what you have

  • It’s more fun to be rich than look rich

  • Cut hard on stuff you don’t care about, spend lavishly on what you love

  • You don’t have that many discretionary hours

  • Concepts are easy: on surface it’s cutting your spending and boosting your income; psychology and emotion behind it

  • We treat money like it’s infinite, but hours in our life are finite

  • You have to want something more than you want stuff – otherwise it feels like deprivation

  • Replicable model that anybody can achieve

  • Early retirement can mean constructing life in a different way

  • Financial independence can mean taking on more risk, expanding your options

  • Saving is not a sacrifice, it’s an opportunity

  • You can practice frugality out of necessity or practice it out of privilege

On Working Towards FI

  • Simple but it’s not easy

  • At some point, you realize, your lifestyle becomes a burden

  • “Where is it all going? We work too hard. We should be in a better position.”

  • “I can buy this lifestyle, or I can buy my time back.”

  • FI can radically transform your life within a few weeks

  • Going against the grain is difficult, requires discipline

  • FIRE can destroy your career on one end and save your life on the other

  • “We can’t lose if we keep happiness in the forefront”

  • Big three things: housing, car, food

  • It’s not just about the decision around money, what you’re buying, the house you want, it’s about happiness

  • Make food in bulk, make a meal plan

  • Still have to go to work on the journey – and can’t spend money, drive what you want

  • Nobody can make you quit except you

  • Need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing

  • Sometimes it gets boring just waiting for the numbers to work out in your favor

  • Essential: being happy during the transition

  • Make decisions based on happiness

On Investments

  • Rental properties, index funds, purchasing or starting businesses that can be run by a team of managers (hands off)

  • The market relentlessly goes up over time

  • On Money

  • Illiteracy makes you a pawn, literacy makes you sovereign

  • Money #1 cause of stress, #1 cause of divorce

  • Your relationship with money can evolve

  • Money is a tool and if your figure out money life is easy

  • Sense of security around money only goes so far

  • We don’t teach financial literacy and planning in school; people don’t know if they’re on track

  • We will all get to live in a better world if we all are more rational with our money

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